Kansas opioid tracking system to expand with $700k+ grant

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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Kansas is getting a $736,313 grant from the Department of Justice to expand its K-TRACS prescription drug monitoring program according to U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister.

"If we do see it, it's pretty easy in general for us to catch those situations," Pharmacist Robert Tubbs said.

Tubbs is the pharmacist at Dandurand Pharmacy in Wichita and says he doesn't often see people "doctor shop" or "pharmacy shop" to try to get opioids from several places. He said the main reason for that is he knows most of his customers.

But before K-TRACS, there wasn't much he could do if he had suspicions.

"K-TRACS has just given us more security or you feel a little more secure when you're filling a prescription," Tubbs said.

The system is essentially a database that holds information about every Kansas patient and Kansas pharmacy that either receives or gives a controlled substance. The database lists the drug given, the dates, the prescribing doctor, the patient's name and more.

"Each pharmacy is required to report to that database," Tubbs said. "Then any pharmacy is able to see what controlled substances have been filled for what patients in the entire state."

With the new grant, the U.S. Attorney's Office says Kansas plans to do three things to expand the system. First, it plans to implement a public awareness campaign for K-TRACS. It also will conduct an audit of all K-TRACS records and from that audit, recommend any corrective action or policies. Finally, it plans to hire a special investigator who will work to expand K-TRACS by, "identifying individuals with questionable behaviors, suspicious prescribing patterns, or harmful practices."

Tubbs said checking the database is fairly simple as he showed us the search process.

"What we do is we go to this screen and we just do a search basically and we just type a patient's name. First, last and DOB. Those three fields are what is required and the rest of it is not required and you just put the date ranges that you want to search in and it's just a simple search there," he said.

That simple search could help stop people from getting more opioids than they need.

According to K-TRACS annual report to the Kansas legislature, in June of 2017 alone, the state had more than 2,000 patient inquiries each day.

The report also said 2017 K-TRACS data shows there was enough prescription opioids dispensed in Kansas, "to give each Kansan either a hydrocodone, oxycodone extended-release, or methadone tablet every day."

Through a news release, Stephen McAllister, U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas, said, “Kansans and all Americans need to understand that opioid addiction is a national public health emergency. Tens of thousands of people every year are disappearing into a whirlpool of addiction, bankruptcy, divorce and death.”